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GM Jerry Reese: Giants “bought into the hype”

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Says team, in particular the defense, wasn’t hungry enough

Jerry Reese at the podium on Tuesday.
Photo by Ed Valentine

General manager Jerry Reese said Tuesday that the biggest difference he has seen in the 1-6 2017 New York Giants vs. the 11-5 2016 team is hunger.

“We bought into the hype,” Reese said.

“We came out of the gate and there was a lot of chatter about how good the team looked and how good it looked on paper. Some talk about Super Bowl and things like that,” Reese said. “The 11 games we won last year that’s over with. You have to start over every time. You have to earn wins and you have to do it the right way. You have to put in the preparation. You can’t walk out there and think people are just going to lay down for you because people are saying good things about you.

“You have to earn wins in this league and I think we bought into some of the hype.”

The GM said that was true of “the entire team,” bur particularly the defense.

“I saw a hungrier defense last year than I’ve seen,” Reese said. “I’ve seen it at times, but you have to be consistently hungry every week and get the job done.”

After finishing second in the league in points allowed last season the Giants are currently 17th. The defense failed to hold fourth-quarter leads against the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Technically, that was also the case against the Los Angeles Chargers. An Eli Manning turnover, however, put the Chargers in position to win that game.

“it’s all about the team. It’s my job, it’s Ben’s (McAdoo) job, it’s the players’ job, it’s all of our jobs to be professionals and be ready to play. Again, we have a pretty young football team and you have to protect against winning. We won 11 games and that was, wow we won 11 games. But still, you have to earn wins in this league and sometimes you have to learn that the hard way. I think this is a hard lesson for us to learn to go out and figure out the right way to do the things it takes to win football games.

Valentine’s View: Reese repeatedly returned to the “it’s on all of us” as an organization theme. He said he would “take ownership” of being 1-6. He then proceeded to throw coach Ben McAdoo and the players, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, under the bus.

In my view, it’s virtually impossible not to take saying that players weren’t properly motivated or that they didn’t prepare properly as anything other than criticism of the head coach.

Here are more takeaways from Reese’s remarks.

On the offensive line

Reese said the Giants wanted to upgrade the offensive line but insisted that “there wasn’t a lot of choices out there to go and get.”

“We looked at a lot of different situations. There just wasn’t a lot of offensive line help out there from our perspective,” Reese said. “We looked at some different situations that didn’t work out for us.”

Reese was asked specifically about Andrew Whitworth, the 35-year-old who was considered the best left tackle on the free-agent market.

“We want to be a younger football team. It (signing Whitworth) didn’t make sense for us. We want to be a younger offensive line,” Reese said. “Do you want to try to develop a 23-year-old guy or do you want to go with a 36-year-old guy? We chose the young route.”

Valentine’s View: There are a couple of reasons to disagree with this line of thinking. First of all, you have an immobile 36-year-old quarterback with a closing championship window. There is no time to be worrying about development. You should be worrying about giving him the best opportunity to win in the time he has left. Second of all, the Giants used money that could have been devoted to Whitworth to sign 33-year-old Brandon Marshall and 31-year-old John Jerry. Those guys don’t fit the “younger football team” model.

About Ereck Flowers

Reese was adamant that Flowers is not the reason the Giants are 1-6.

“Everybody wants to beat up on Ereck Flowers,” Reese said. “Ereck Flowers is not the reason we’re 1-6. I still believe he will develop and get better. He’s gotten better as the season has gone on.”

Halfway through his third season, Reese admitted that while “you’d like to know” he still can’t say if Flowers is the team’s long-term solution at left tackle.

“I do think he’s developing. Is he going to be our long-term left tackle? We don’t know that. Compared to a lot of left tackles around the National Football League there’s a bunch of comparables around,” Reese said.

“I do think he gets pointed out unfairly at times, but it’s the National Football League. If you can’t take criticism you should quit. Ereck’s a big boy. There’s been guys picked higher than him in the offensive line who have struggled.”

Valentine’s View: Reese is absolutely right that Flowers is not the reason the Giants are 1-6. All has been quiet on the Flowers front since a rocky first couple of games.

The problem is, first and foremost, that Reese chose the path of continuing to find out about Flowers (and Bobby Hart) rather than doing something tangible to try and get better.

The other problem is that, justifying Flowers and and your current offensive line by saying, basically, that a lot of other teams also have chosen bad left tackles or have bad offensive lines is really not justifying it at all.

Quote of the day

“If you guys want me to get up here and have a tantrum, I’m not going to do that. It’s frustrating. Anytime you lose football games and you’re 1-6, there’s some frustration, but I’m not going to get up here and fall on the floor and kick and scream. I’m not going to do that.”

— Reese on his frustration level

On his job status

“That’s up to the owners of the New York Giants. You can ask them that if you’d like. I just know that I come to work every day and I know people come in here and they work their behinds off every day. So that’s a question I think you should ask ownership,” Reese said.

“I come to work every day. I do what I do every day and try to help this football team be the best football team that we can be moving forward and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Valentine’s View: That is really all Reese can say. He’s not going to quit, he’s just going to keep trying to do his job.

On Ben McAdoo

“He won 11 games last year as a rookie. It’s been a little bit tougher, you can’t sneak up on anybody in this league, he has to do better at what his job is and I think he will and here’s why I think that, is because, it’s important to him, number one. He’s a hard worker, he’s smart. He’s smarter than all of us in this room, I can tell you that. It’s not even close, all of us together, he’s smarter than all of us,” Reese said. “So, it’s important to him, it means something to him. He’s not a guy that you can’t talk to and give suggestions to. He’s going to do whatever is best for this football team.”

Valentine’s View: McAdoo might be smart. But, we know he isn’t THAT smart. And he really has yet to fully comprehend all of the duties of being a head coach.

On getting Davis Webb some playing time

“Right now, we have nine games to play and I feel like, don’t count us out yet. We’ve been left for dead by a lot of people, but don’t count us out yet. We’re going to go into the second half of the season, give it everything we have, do some self-evaluations and figure out what we can do better, what things we have done good, what we’ve done bad, how can we manufacture and win football games. That’s where our focus is moving forward right now,” Reese said.

“At some point (it might be worth looking at Webb), but when is that some point? It’s not right now because we’re going to fight with everything we have with these nine games left and hopefully we can turn our season around.”

Valentine’s View: Reese is, of course, kidding himself if he truly believes that the Giants can turn things around and play games that matter later this season. I’m OK with the stance of Webb, for now, but the organization would be well-served to get him at least some snaps in the final two or three games.